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Arson Attempt on HM Customs’ Vessel Seeker - 372/2022

May 25, 2022

At approximately 23.00 Hrs on Wednesday 18th May 2022, HMC Seeker sustained extensive damage to its inflatable collar, following an arson attempt on HMC’s Marine assets.

HMC Seeker was berthed at its designated place by Custom House, Waterport, when a small RHIB operated by an unidentified individual came into close proximity and fired a distress signal flare directly towards it. The flare impacted the rear starboard side of the patrol vessel, causing extensive damage to the collar as it exploded. No officers were on board at the time. Immediately thereafter, the unidentified individual fired a second flare but, on this second attempt, the flare missed the vessel and landed on the quayside, where it exploded without causing further damage to Government Property or harm to the Customs Officer on duty nearby.

The assailant subsequently sped off away from the scene. Other Marine and Land Based Customs Officers, deployed in other areas, immediately responded to the call for assistance. A thorough inspection confirmed that no further damage was sustained. The Royal Gibraltar Police was immediately informed of the incident and a forensics team was soon in attendance. The investigation to identify responsibility continues. Members of the public who may have any information that might assist the investigation are to contact the Royal Gibraltar Police or HM Customs.   

The incident could have developed into a much more serious one had the targeted vessel caught fire and the blast impacted on other vessels or buildings in the area, likely resulting in injuries or worse. HM Government of Gibraltar and the Collector of Customs take a very serious view of this arson attempt on law enforcement and considers that there was a criminal intent to cause substantial damage. This behaviour will not be tolerated and all measures will be put in place to protect our citizens and property; and to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice.

The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo, said: ‘Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar will not tolerate such attacks on our excellent law enforcement agents at HM Customs or criminal damage to our law enforcement assets.  We have already invested in ensuring that this launch is repaired and put back to work in stopping criminal activity in our waters. The men and women of HM Customs have our full support in their work to find and punish the reckless criminals who committed these highly dangerous acts.’